Council’s Te Reo spending applauded
An investment in bilingual lifts at Auckland Council headquarters has been applauded for bringing Te Reo into the workplace.
Auckland Council spent $6200 last month installing software in 10 lifts in its 29-storey Albert St tower.
The new software announces each level in English and Te Reo Maori.
Auckland Council’s Maori design specialist Olivia Haddon said the Te Reo lift system was a pilot project, which might be extended to other council sites in Auckland, and encouraged the use of Te Reo in the workplace.
Haddon said $5500 was going to be spent upgrading its Albert St tower lifts. She said incorporating the Te Reo feature added only $700 to the cost.
Bringing Te Reo Maori into our lift systems gives voice to the council’s commitment to Te Reo Maori and acknowledges the importance of our Maori communities, Haddon said.
‘‘Feedback from staff has been hugely positive and the increase in the number of staff signing up for Te Reo Maori classes since the launch of the pilot has been incredibly encouraging,’’ Haddon said.
Professor Tania Ka’ai, director of Te Ipukarea, the National Maori Language Institute at AUT University, said she thought the Te Reo feature would be valuable for those travelling in the building.
‘‘Being in a lift that is bilingual is a very good, very creative way to express support,’’ Ka’ai said.
She applauded it as a nonthreatening expansion of Te Reo into a work environment and said the repetition would be helpful to council staff learning pronunciation.
She said it wasn’t a new idea, and she was part of an initiative to install dual language lift systems at Otago University in 2000.
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokeswoman Jo Holmes questioned the use of ratepayer funds on such an initiative.
Holmes said the value of the language addition in an office building to ratepayers was questionable and it was up to council workers to learn Te Reo. She said it shouldn’t be forced on them.
‘‘Council is pleading poverty, it shouldn’t be frivolous and spending unnecessarily,’’ Holmes said.
‘‘There are far more important things that need money, our ratepayers’ money.’’
The lifts in Auckland Council’s Albert St headquarters now speak Te Reo Maori.